Clint Frazier may be grabbing a lot of attention lately for his defensive miscues, but that’s not what fans should be paying attention to. Don’t look now, but it seems like Frazier’s bat is heating back up. If he returns to anything like he was before his injury, opponents beware.
Leading up to Injury
Prior to his ankle injury in late April, Frazier’s slash line was .324/.342/.632. His OPS was at an incredible .975 through his first 18 games. He’d hit 6 home runs. His bat was performing so well that the Yankees eventually moved him from batting 7th or 8th in the order to hitting cleanup.
Unfortunately, Frazier caught the ever-popular injury bug at the end of the month. He ended up missing 11 games with an ankle sprain and when he returned he didn’t look quite the same. Over the next 12 games, he went just 6-40 with one extra-base hit and no home runs. He struck out 15 times against just three walks through that period. During that stretch, Frazier saw his OPS drop from .975 all the way down to .756 on May 19th.
Heating Back Up
But then something happened. That something was Baltimore. Often an offensive cure-all for teams, especially the Yankees (see Gleyber Torres), it was just what Frazier needed. Leading into last night’s game against the Padres, Frazier’s bat had heated back up, going 10-29 with 4 home runs. He saw his OPS for the season jump back up to .876. While the latest hot stretch still leaves his overall May numbers a bit ugly, with a slash line of .229/.289/.443, if there’s anything we know about Frazier it’s that when his bat starts going right it usually REALLY starts going right. Here’s hoping he doesn’t get too hard on himself about the defensive side of the ball.
Overall his season stats now look great. He’s hitting .275/.315/.536 with 10 home runs and 28 RBI. His OPS is at .852. His OPS+ is 121. Better yet he’s continued to perform well in the clutch. With RISP his slash line is an absurd .414/.441/.897. With 2 outs and RISP, it’s even better: .533/.533/1.200. Those are the kind of stats the Yankees can use. Sure he strikes out a fair amount, but that type of clutch contact is needed on a team that will continue to be more prone to strikeouts as the sluggers return.
Though his defensive concentration continues to leave something to be desired, the Yankees will keep Frazier around if his bat stays hot enough. Given Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton’s injuries, he still has at least another month to prove he belongs as the potential 4th outfielder/DH. If his bat stays hot, Boone and Cashman will have some tricky decisions to make come mid-summer.